Scientists at Shriners Hospitals for Children — St. Louis (9/06/2016) have programmed cells to grow new cartilage on a 3-D template shaped like the ball of a hip joint. Using orthobiologics, the technique combines regenerative treatment and gene therapy to create a “living” implant that is a viable alternative to hip-replacement surgery as we know it.
The patient’s cells are taken from fat beneath the skin and grown into new cartilage on a 3-D model. A gene is then inserted into the tissue and activated with a simple drug. Once activated with the drug, the gene releases anti-inflammatory molecules to reduce pain and prevent further cartilage damage.
Resurfacing the hip joint with this living tissue not only eases arthritis pain, but it also may delay or eliminate the need for joint-replacement surgery in the future.
Advancements in Orthobiologics Lead to Better Options For Younger Patients
Nearly 30 million Americans have been diagnosed with osteoarthritis. Many of these patients are under 65 and have limited treatment options because they’re not ideal candidates for total joint replacement. Few doctors are willing to do a hip-replacement surgery in patients under 50 because prosthetic joints usually last for less than 20 years, and the second surgery to replace the prosthetic can destroy bone and result in infection.
With this living tissue, patients will be able to keep arthritis pain at bay while avoiding the risks associated with a traditional hip-replacement surgery. This discovery could also one day eliminate the need for hip-replacement surgery in adolescent patients because, unlike a metal or plastic prosthetic, a living implant can grow with a child.
It is so exciting to see these new advances in modern medicine using the power of orthobiologics. Emerging research continues to support the science behind the regenerative medicine and regenerative therapy treatments that we provide at Flexogenix®. The scientists at Shriners Hospitals for Children — St. Louis will be advancing their research into regenerative medicine within the next few months, and we’re looking forward to the studies confirming what we see in our clinic every day, as well as more advancement in orthobiologics that will inevitably follow.